Guidelines and Criteria


Habitat can be defined as land that supports ecosystem services such as biodiversity, soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, air quality and human benefit. Habitat can be multi-acre tracts, called mosaic, along waterways or right-of-ways, called linear, or small parcels when in proximity are called stepping stone habitat.

The value of habitat increases when enlarged and/or contiguous to form a greenway or corridor. Since so much land in the Chicago area is privately owned, there is more opportunity to expand habitat by engaging property owners to improve and link their land into viable habitat corridors.

Criteria for Viable Habitat

Habitat that provides ecosystem services includes:

  • Native plants- forbs, grasses, trees and shrubs
  • Water management-rain barrels, rain gardens, erosion control, water-loving plants, rain-permeable pavement/walkways, lake/stream bank buffer
  • Wildlife habitat-sources of food for birds, butterflies and other pollinators, nesting sites, water sources, shelter
  • Control of invasive species
  • Reduced/minimal turf grass lawn
  • Earth-friendly maintenance practices-minimal use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer, composting, appropriate mulching

The scope of these elements will vary with the size and location of the property. A small lot may have only a few native trees and shrubs, with perhaps a border garden of native plants. It could support a birdbath, a birdhouse and feeders and eliminate pesticides and fertilizer. A large lot- perhaps an acre or more- should aim to eliminate invasives and replace them with native shrubs and trees; over time replace the amount of lawn with native grasses and forbs and replace lawn under trees with native shade plants, native groundcovers or leaf mulch. In all cases, soil should be amended with compost, not fertilizer.


CLC will have available checklists of native plants for specific conditions, sources of native plants and seeds, maps of area preserves and privately-owned habitat restorations, established habitat development programs, and lists of experts to tap for advice or assistance in developing or improving habitat on private property.

Sample Criteria Checklist (PDF)



Chicago Living Corridors promotes the idea that private landowners can be instruments of change by restoring natural habitat corridors between protected conservation areas in order to:

  • improve biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • diminish the effects of climate change


One good way to participate in this effort is to join a local organization.  See below for more information.  Additional ways to participate include:
Volunteer with Chicago Living Corridors
Become a Citizen Scientist

Join a CLC Partner Organization

Many private landowners have created native habitat on their property.  See here for an interactive map of some of those who have registered their native habitat.

The CLC partner organizations listed below promote the use of native plants and natural habitats on private landscapes. Become involved in the natural landscaping movement in your community. Join one of the organizations listed, or start your own organization, and tell CLC about it.

Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee (WPPC)
The Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee is a non-profit organization dedicated to:

  • Promoting the use of native plants in the landscape through preservation, propagation, and education
  • Advocating the conservation of open space, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat,
    scenic resources, and water in McHenry County and neighboring areas for the benefit of the general public
  • Engaging in and otherwise promoting the scientific study of and educating the public regarding local natural resources

Most of our members are in McHenry County.

The Conservation Foundation (TCF)
The Conservation Foundation is a non-profit land and river protection organization founded in 1972. The support of more than 3,500 members and 500 volunteers helps us carry out our mission to preserve and restore open space and natural lands, protect rivers and watersheds, and promote stewardship of our environment in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties, Illinois.

West Cook Wild Ones (WCWO)
West Cook Wild Ones promotes the use of native plants and natural landscapes.

Citizens for Conservation (CFC)
Citizens for Conservation is a 45 year old volunteer organization in the Barrington area whose mission is “Saving Living Space for Living Things through protection, restoration, and stewardship of land, conservation of natural resources and education.

  • Our Habitat Corridors program promotes planting native plants and earth-friendly yard practices. Knowledgeable volunteers visit home properties in the northwest suburbs to provide recommendations.
  • Our annual native plant sale, held the first weekend of May, provides a huge selection of local ecotype forbs, grasses, shrubs and trees.

Our websites, and provide many resources for individuals.

Map of CLC Partner Organizations


You can explore all of the site locations for each of the CLC organizations here (Google map).

Tell Us About Your Organization

Is your organization not listed above, but is helping private landowners to support pollinator populations, conserve clean water, increase biodiversity and restore soil? We would like to hear about it. Please contact us at The CLC support region includes the counties in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana listed below.


Boone Kenosha
Cook Racine
DeKalb Walworth
DuPage Waukesha
Iroquois IN
Kane Jasper
Kankakee Lake
Kendall LaPorte
Lake Marshall
LaSalle Newton
Livingston Porter
McHenry St. Joseph
Will Starke